WITH British Food Fortnight (July 27 to August 12) falling on the same dates as the London 2012 Olympics, there’s a golden opportunity for foodies and sports fans to unite.
The Olympic Village itself will be catering to nine million visitors during the Games, and both events will be serving up traditional fare to discerning palettes and keeping British food firmly in the spotlight.
While the athletes may need to avoid tipples before their big events, for the rest of us there’s a great excuse to spin the wine wheel and match whites, reds and roses to traditional great British grub.
Being a good sport and choosing British also means supporting our farmers, the glorious, green countryside and at the same time backing Team GB in their bid for gold medals.
One of the largest and best-known English wine estates, Surrey-based Denbies has a deliciously refreshing sparkle to have with fish and chips. The creamy bubbles and lemon sherbet profile of Broadwood’s Folly NV, England (£16.99, Tesco) make it the perfect foil for batter, tangy tartare sauce, and extras such as salt and vinegar.
For smaller pockets and a midweek supper on the sofa, Sainsbury’s House Muscadet (£4.69, Sainsbury’s) from the Loire Valley, France, is a clean, crisp white with good acidity to cut through beer-battered cod, and it’s a real bargain. Lemony with a mineral finish, this white loves any type of fish, especially grilled sole.
A plate of Scottish smoked salmon with brown bread and butter (a slice of trivia: 25,000 loaves of bread will be served to Olympic ticket holders) calls for a weightier white to balance the taste, and a white Rioja such as Altos de la Guardia Rioja 2011 (£9.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk) makes a pleasant change to chardonnay. A double gold medal-winning wine, it’s fresh and well rounded with citrus and fragrant peachy fruit flavours, a streak of guava and good balancing acidity to withstand the salty element of smoked fish.
A firm favourite for summer entertaining, cold poached salmon with cucumber sauce and new potatoes suits a New World style such as Mt Olympus Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand (£7.98, Asda). A real winner that can match any of its pricier competitors and just as sophisticated, it’s full of flavour with crisp, clean fruity notes of gooseberry and passionfruit.
British beef cries out for a red with real presence and Vinalba Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina (£6.79, The Co-operative) holds its own. Don’t let the light colour deceive you, this full-flavoured red has savoury flavours of cherries and violet-scented fruit with well-integrated tannins to harmonise with a medium-rare steak and oven chips.
Spicy Spanish reds such as Finest Old Vine Garnacha 2010, Spain (£7.99, Tesco) suit bangers and mash, or a Sunday lunch Iberian style, with roast pork, crackling and seasonal vegetables.